It's a little more than 40 miles from Guelph, Ontario, to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Making that trip took Bill McCreary more than 26 years and 2,000 NHL games.
McCreary will become the 16th on-ice official to be honored when he and the rest of the Class of 2014 are inducted into the Hall on Monday. It's an honor he said he never thought about when he stepped on the ice to work his first game.
"From the beginning, I always wanted to do well and be one of the best. But I never had the goal of being in the Hockey Hall of Fame," he told NHL.com. "I wanted to do the best that I could … and it was a great way for me to make a living for my family while staying with a wonderful game."
McCreary said he got involved in officiating for a simple reason: He realized he wasn't going to make it as a player.
"I played junior hockey; I wasn't very good. When I returned home to Guelph, I joined the local referees association in Guelph and got involved there," he said. "At the NHL level, we were fortunate that we had [linesmen] Ron Asselstine, Will Norris, Ray Scapinello and [referee] Andy van Hellemond; we had lots of representation in Guelph at the pro level. They encouraged me to get involved with the little kids, the minor hockey kids, which I did, and I really enjoyed giving back to the game. It just seemed to snowball from there."